Home trends: Retro Industrial

Bus blinds, Typewriters and Ampersands

Is it just me or is it COLD? Autumn has really made its self known and my thoughts have followed it accordingly. This is the first of several posts I’m going to write on the key home trends of this (chilly) season. Everywhere I look there are metal cabinets and battered wood pieces of furniture, utilitarian lighting and wire accessories. And I don’t care because I love retro industrial. I surprised my self a bit with this as I’m usually a complete girly girl. Even I need a break from florals every once in a while….

The three things that really epitomise this trend for me are bus blinds, typewriters and ampersands. They’re definitely in vogue at the moment and deservedly so. The bus blind signs are another addition to my true love: monochrome wall art. Obviously, I went straight out and bought one (albeit a more purse-friendly poster version) but its currently sat in a dusty corner of my room awaiting more wall space and a sturdy black frame to boot.

The ampersand is a strange one. It’s been loitering at the top of our keyboards for yonks without the slightest bit of attention. But once typography really became trendy it was recognised as by far the most elegant of symbols we have. I recently bought an entire hand stamping kit, I’m not going to lie, almost exclusively for the ampersand- it just looks so darn cool. Plus, how awesome is the ampersand board?! I wish I knew where it was from.

Finally, typewriters. Need I say more? We all want to go back to an age when typing wasn’t so mundane and tipex was the only way to correct the inevitable typos. Typewriters come in all ages, shapes and sizes but like all industrial home accessories, they appeal because they are also functional; they can be used as well as looked at.

And just to show you can be industrial and girly….(phew!)….

For more retro industrial ideas visit my pinterest board, where all of these can be found: bus blinds, typewriters and ampersands.

An unhealthy addiction…

As you know, I’m itching to moveout. I’ve spent the last week searching for flatmates which has lead to an unhealthy addiction: rental websites. I now seem to spend every spare minute on them! There’s rightmove, where you look for places to buy/rent and easyroomate.com and spareroom.co.uk where you look for rooms to rent in already occupied flats.

Rightmove is awesome cos you can create you’re own custom search areas by drawing them and specify loads of things, like how far away from the station it is etc. I also love using it to check out the gorgeous multi-million pound houses and add their contents to my plan for the future- ha, I should be so lucky! Homes show a lot about the people who live in them and one thing I’ve really picked up on is that you can guess at people’s personalities by how they decorate their homes.

Spareroom and easyroomate also bring this out in me. I’ve found that I partially base my judgement of whether flatshares would be my cup of tea on how they’ve decorated their rooms. I guess it shows a lot about what you consider important (cleanliness would be top of my list!) and what you hold dear. Equally, I’m sure people are judging me. When you sign up to these sites, you create a profile saying a bit about yourself- I did not anticipate how hard it is to sum yourself up  and try and get people to like you in a couple of sentences!

The sites are great as they allow me to be picky- you search for people that you would like to live with (based on age, gender, location, profession etc) and you get results that match your preferences. The best (and most addictive) thing is that they send you updates every time a new room match is listed. This means I receive about 10 emails a day!

I think part of the problem is that I haven’t made any actual definite decisions yet, meaning that the options are endless. Do I live in the more expensive but nicer place or the cheaper place that will leave me more money for socialising? Do I live with people who seem more like-minded or in the place closer to the station? Do I live nearer to London for the weekends or closer to work for the commute in the week. Whilst this is all very exciting, it does get rather time consuming!

Decoupage lampshade tutorial

Well, as you know, I’ve been super excited to get to grips with the Mod Podge I recently bought. First I had a  few trial sessions re-covering the lids of some boring storage boxes. I was actually pretty happy with how it went. Here are the results:

I just slapped the stuff on with a paintbrush and smoothed the paper over it. One word of warning though, the paper does get air pockets in which you have to press out and as the paper is wet with glue it can disintegrate so be gentle!

After this practice I decided I was ready for my first project. I bought this lamp from ASDA (of all places!) for a bargain price but always planned to spruce it up a bit. I also had some very cute floral fabric that I loved but hadn’t yet found the right project for. After seeing this tutorial, I knew I’d found my spruce!

Here’s how I did it:

  1. Unattach shade from lamp- careful with hot bulbs and turn off the power first!
  2. Trace the circumference of the shade onto the back of the fabric. My shade was pitched so the fabric strip was curved.
  3. Cut the fabric carefully. Here’s your cover.
  4. Cover the entire shade with a layer of Mod Podge.
  5. Wait until it is tacky.
  6. Slowly and CAREFULLY smooth the fabric onto the shade- keeping it lined up.
  7. Smooth out air bubbles as you go- fabric is more forgiving than paper as it’s stretchy so you can manipulate it without ripping it.
  8. Leave to dry for 20 mins- I left it on the lamp stand to prevent the wet glue sticking to any surfaces.
  9. When dry, cover the fabric in a layer of Mod Podge- this seals it and prevents the edges from fraying.
  10. Once dry, add another layer if necessary.

Time for you to get cracking- I’d love to know what you’ve been decoupaging, get in touch or leave a comment!

Awesome August thrifty finds

Don’t you just love it when you find something great when you weren’t even looking for it? I’ve been scanning the (many) charity shops in my town for mismatched teacups to make into beautiful candle gifts (as seen here) to no avail. I usually see them all the time but, sod’s law, when I want to buy a couple, I can’t find one anywhere! I’m not too upset though as, in the last shop I visited, I bagged a load of different things.

These vintage red kitchen scales were the first to catch my eye. Very industrial and they’ve seen a fair bit of use but they’re so solid and sturdy and I love the idea that they have been (and will continue to be) passed down generations. They cost me £20 which is loads cheaper than the reproduction models you can buy.

I also nabbed an authentic retro tin sign (only £4) to go with the scales. Together with my beloved amaretto tin from Milan, they’ll make for a lovely red-themed kitchen when I get my own place. For the time being they’re occupying a corner of my bedroom and the scales have even become storage for my hair nik naks, clips and bands.

Other bits that i picked up include a lovely mercury glass tealight holder (£2!) , some adorable floral boxes (also £2) and a circa 1900 map of China (£5).

I love the feeling of getting something that is good-quality for a fraction of the cost that you’d buy it new or even from a vintage shop. You can get some really great stuff from charity shops, you just have to be prepared to trawl through some not-so-great stuff to find it. My biggest tip is to be patient. Sometimes you won’t find anything at all but other times you’ll leave with bulging bags.

What’s your greatest charity shop find?

Pottery Barn crosses the pond

Pottery Barn has been a long standing favourite with the yanks and I have looked on jealously whilst other US bloggers showcase their pottery barn spoils.
But, no more! Pottery Barn is now delivering to the UK and other countries. It’s taking all of my self restraint to not buy everything on the website. Delivery costs aren’t bad either although you’ll still have to contend with customs. Here are my favourite pieces. Love, love, LOVE the cubby storage unit.

Rule Britannia

The Olympics has kicked off and Olympic fever is in full swing here in Great Britain. I live just a stone’s throw from the action and can hardly contain my excitement. Last weekend I went to watch both the cycling road race and the Equestrian eventing and spent every other minute of time watching the other events on TV. It’s Monday and now work is preventing me from getting my Olympic fix (boo!), I’m already having withdrawal symptoms and looking forward to a night in on the sofa catching up on the day’s developments.

What with the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, Euro 2012 AND hosting the Olympic Games, 2012 is making me very proud to be British. Patriotism is running high and interior design seems to be following suit. Union Jacks, red buses, black cabs and London landmarks are everywhere at the moment so I thought I’d share some of my favourites with you. All the items are from collection by John Lewis or Harrods.

So, shop around and then  bring out the strawberries, tea and Victoria sandwich cake and cheer your hearts out for Team GB!

On an aside, you may notice I’m loving the collages at the moment. This one was made using photovisi in about 10 seconds flat. Can’t decide if i prefer this or Polyvore. What are your favourite collage tools?

Home Moodboard

I’m planning to fly the nest in six months or so (health of bank balance permitting) and although it’s quite a while away I’ve been collecting images everytime I see something I HAVE to have. This is the latest collection of ideas, put together on Polyvore (thanks for the tip Dana from House Tweaking).


All of these things, apart from the UK artwork , were spotted in the ever-pleasing Dunelm Mill on a recent inspiration browse. I typically ended up buying some small bits too which I’ll show next post.

Indian Summer

As mentioned in my last post, I recently got back from a month in India. It was hot, hot, HOT and an incredible, life-altering experience. It’s a beautiful, crazy, COLOURFUL country with a lot of fascinating history and a strong culture. While there I saw some amazing sights like the Taj Mahal and Amber Fort but also worked with slum children and saw some shocking poverty. I think  a bit of my heart will always be there with the kind, wonderful people who welcomed us into their homes and the gorgeous children who so readily befriended us.

In interest of staying ‘on topic’ I have compiled the best photos I have of Indian decorative style and painting so you can see what I mean about the colour! If you’ve ever considered going to India I would urge you to absolutely do it! You would NOT regret it!

Stop and stair

A Staircase can make a house. In fact, it defines it: without one you live in a flat or bungalow. So, staircases are pretty important and as the pictures below show, they can be pretty stylish too. Here are my favourites from the blogosphere:

This beauty stands in the entrance to Jasper Conran’s London Flagship store. It’s like something out of a fairytale and works perfectly colours with the classic stye furniture

How cute are these Brume stair stickers?! And they’re a brilliant way to pick up a new language!

Cool colonial style and the use of cream and natural colours make it light and cosy at the same time.

Stairways to heaven….